The All in Radio poker show and a poker hand analysis

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Mark | Poker Strategy, Poker Tournament

About a month ago (November 21st to be precise) I talked on the All in radio poker show (click the link and go to 34 minutes into the show to hear my words of wisdom). I talked mostly about my favorite flop moves from Mitchell Cogert’s “Tournament Poker: 101 Winning Moves”. It is no secret that I like Mitchell’s book and consider it a must read for any serious poker player.

After talking on the All In Radio show I had a very good poker talk with Mitchell regarding a hand my friend Artur and I played in a tournament. I consider the email exchange worth posting here:

From me

So here’s my question:

“What is the optimal way to utilize the all in mayhem that always seems to take place in online poker tournaments once the bubble has burst and there are 5-10 tables left before the final table?”

To give an example my friend and I played some poker tournaments this Saturday and went fairly deep in 3 of them but stumbled before the final tables were reached.

Here’s one of the situations we were involved in:

200 left of a 7000 player tournament. We have 450000 chips which is about 3x average. Blinds are 3000/6000 and antes were probably around 500. On our tables the players have stack sizes of 150000-700000. The play is typical post bubble all in mayhem. People are raising and pushing their stacks to the middle with medium hands.
A couple of hand before we lost 200000 chips in a 3 way pot where we over played our middle pair.

We are dealt K2 suited in middle position and decide to raise 3xBB to steal the blinds. The BB who has 250000 chips calls. At this point we are pretty sure he does not have an ace or premium hand otherwise he would have raised us given the aggressive nature of the table. Something like a small pocket pair or QJ, J10 etc. Flop is 825. BB checks and we make a 3/4 pot continuation bet. BB calls. Turn is an Ace and BB makes a small probe bet of 30000 chips. We are convinced the Ace is a scare card for him and since we have shown strength throughout the hand we continue doing so by putting the BB all in. He instant calls with pocket sixes and takes down the pot.

We’re down to 250000 chips and end up all in preflop shortly after with KK vs AK and lose to a flopped Ace.

So within 15 minutes we went from an overall 2nd place to busting out. Afterwards we talked a lot about whether we did the right thing or not.

Do you have to be super aggressive and take risks (joining the all in mayhem) during the final stages of a tournament towards the final table, or is it a better approach to sit back a bit, win small pots and wait for decent hands?
Do you have any thoughts yourself on how to play these very late stages of a tournament?

From Mitchell

Mark:

You have 90x’s the big blind and are in second place.  The table is pushing in with all sorts of hands, according to your email.

Now you try to steal with K-2 and get called.

1.  You know people are pushing with all sorts of hands, so what is the point of this play.  If everyone is playing super loose–and you are a chip leader—tighten up.  It’s that simple.

2.  If you try to steal and get called, why are you compounding your error further with a c-bet–where players are playing loose.

You answered your own questions in the email.

In many tournaments, players will tighten up considerably near the bubble.  Then it makes sense to raise with any 2 cards in late position.  But here..after the bubble…the image of the table–super loose—and you know your chip position–in great shape with 90x’s big blind and in 2nd place—No need to rush.  Let the game come to you in these situations–they don’t happen that often–but when they do….relax.  Your opponents need to risk their stack, you don’t need to risk your stack….which you did here.

Also, please stop blindly making c-bets—a better play would have been to check the flop.  When the Ace hits on the turn, your opponent would have likely checked and you could make a bet to try to win the pot as a delayed c-bet and a scare card on the board.

I hope this helps…I am away for the Thanksgiving Holiday, so I won’t be able to read your attchments or post anything until next week.

Me again

Hi Mitchell

We wanted to represent a strong hand hence the 3/4 pot continuation bet. I get from your answer that you are not a big fan of c-bets and that it is your opinion that we build a stronger case representing an Ace by checking the flop behind the BB and then raising his probe bet on the turn once the Ace hits.

Say you do not have a big stack during the post bubble all in mayhem, would you then still recommend waiting for a solid hand and then push your chips in hoping for the best? Or would you start risking your stack with less than solid hands given the fact that everyone else are playing loose as well?

I think I am most in favor of using the stop and go in these situations. Call a preflop raise with your strong hand and push all in on the flop no matter what. If you are successful and manage to build a stack then start relaxing and let the hands come to you as you wrote in your previous mail. What do you think? Of course it all depends on how your table is playing in general. If they are playing regular tight aggressive poker you can probably get away with building your stack through stealing the blinds.

Thanks for your feedback! It is greatly appreciated.

From Mitchell

Mark, I am a fan of c-bets but not without planning ahead my line of play.

Whenever someone tells me that they raise pre-flop to steal the blinds AND They get called AND On the flop they make a c-bet…I know the player did not plan his line of play.  The line of play was to steal the blinds.  The play did not work….so end it…if you are in good chip shape.  If it gets checked to you on the turn, then bet.  If it gets bet to you, guess what, fold.  Your line of play was to steal the blinds….sorry, it didn’t happen.  It’s over….unless…your opponent is giving up–which is what a check-check means…and a 1/2 sized pot bet is fine.

Anyawy, I understand what you were doing with your 3/4th bet on the flop–but the pre-flop raise did not make sense given the the way the table was playing and your stack size.

If you don’t have a big stack at this stage, it doesn’t matter how the table is playing.  If you get a hand, push.  If you are less than around 10x’s the big blind, and you have even pocket deuces push…two paints push….position look to push depending on players to your left.

I don’t think people understand the stop and go.  They think it is simply calling a raise and then pushing all-in on the flop.  That’s like saying people who draw are artists.

The stop and go is used in situations where you have a hand, but one which may play better after the flop–and your all in move on the flop will not be auto-called due to the size of the bet on the flop.

For example, if you have pocket Jacks in the big blind, if you are low on chips after a pre-flop raiser you just push.  But, if after your pre-flop call, you have enough chips to get your opponent to fold on the flop, then use the stop and go.

I hope this helps.

From me

Hi Mitchell

It is really beneficial to get another view on things. I get where you are coming from when you say plan ahead with your c-bets. You say that if your plan was to steal the blinds and you do not succeed forget the hand. I have another possible take on the situation.

We did plan on stealing the blinds but it did not work. Instead of giving up on the hand we take another path to give ourselves an additional chance of winning the pot. If we check the flop our betting pattern can easily represent a hand with an Ace. When the Ace hits on the turn we take down the pot by raising our opponent’s probe bet.
I guess what I’m thinking is that by raising preflop you have the chance of representing different hands through your betting patterns on the later streets. Eventhough your initial plan was to steal the blinds and that did not work, who’s to say you cannot change strategy while the hand is played out. If your betting pattern is consistent then your opponents will not be able to tell whether you initially raised to steal the blinds or if you raised with a premium hand.

Regarding the stop-and-go, if I understand you correctly it is best to use it against an opponent who will risk a large portion of his stack if you move all in on the flop and who can afford to fold and still have a chance in the tournament. By making this play in the right spot, you increase your chances of taking down the pot uncontested in a situation where you are prepared to risk all your chips anyway.

From Mitchell:

Yes…and Yes.

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3 Comments to The All in Radio poker show and a poker hand analysis

Corian Sinks
December 23, 2009

Seems like it will be a cool show. I’ll look out for it

Living Pen
December 23, 2009

Il definitely be tuning in. SOunds like there will be some great tips on the show

Narendra
December 26, 2009

It was a great show i think. The tips and the questions raised definitely work for the poker lovers.

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